Virunga Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is one of the last remaining strongholds of the endangered Mountain Gorilla
Located in north-western Rwanda on the borders of the DRC and Uganda, the park comprises a group of five volcanoes, the Virungas, which rise to some 15000 ft above sea-level. The steep slopes and valleys provide a variety of rich montane ecosystems – from evergreen and bamboo forest, to open grassland, swamp and heath.
The park is the original home of the ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ made famous by Dian Fossey. There are approximately 10 habituated mountain gorilla families open to public visits, and a further few for research purposes only. There is also a habituated group of the rare Golden monkey, and trekking to see the monkeys is a good warm up activity as the walk tends to be shorter than the gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking in this park can be slightly easier than in Uganda, although a good level of fitness is still required, and you never quite know where the gorillas will venture, so even seemingly ‘easy’ treks can end up off the pathways on steep, vegetated slopes.
Other walks include climbing the various volcanoes or visiting the ruins of the Karisoke Research Station where Dian Fossey was stationed (and buried). Local people live and farm right up to the park boundary.